Ethel Adjorlolo Marfo is a social entrepreneur who is passionately Africa’s first Male Child Development Activist. She is the founder & CEO of Junior Shapers Africa, a social enterprise that provides grooming and mentoring for boys between 6-16 years. Junior Shapers Africa aspires boys to become responsible men and solid supporters of the modern African woman.
Other enterprises founded by Ethel include Salon Cuties, a niche salon for children and Ghana Mompreneurs Club, a business support network for moms combining business and early years of motherhood. She has also worked as a Public Relations and Marketing Professional in various organizations.
As mother of 3 daughters, Ethel is a firm believer of devoting time and preparing the boy child to fully complement the girl child we are tirelessly empowering today.
Why choose to focus on male child empowerment?
First of all, I am motivated by the future of my daughters. I have three beautiful daughters and my husband and I are giving them the best of nurturing and training they will need to survive as independent women. But it dawned on me that no matter how empowered or educated a girl is, she will need a responsible man or husband to co-manage her future home when she decides to get married. It’s important that children are raised in a holistic way by both mother and father.
I was also concerned about the (social, emotional, spiritual) needs of the boy child who no one is paying attention to. This leads to a lot of dysfunctional men in our society frustrating hardworking women.
Again, I was challenged by the fatherhood crisis that is on the increase. There are a lot of fathers shirking their responsibilities towards their children. Though a mother can teach children to be responsible and can also instill good character traits in them, a mother cannot role model for a boy on how to be a responsible man. A boy needs to see his father handle responsibilities of a man, husband, and a father to become one himself.
To solve this challenge, I find good men to groom, mentor and nurture young boys to uphold high standards of integrity with strong family values and be responsible for himself and his community.
Share with us the operation of Junior Shapers Africa? Is it a series of one-time courses or it’s a continuous learning up until graduation?
It’s a continuous learning up till graduation. The Junior Boys Mentoring Clinic (JBMC) is the flagship program that oversees the mentoring and grooming of boys. There are basically three(3) levels with this program;
The foundation level focuses on boys discovering and understanding who they are and appreciating themselves. Topics like temperaments, values, self-worth and essential life skills are treated at this level. The second is the Intermediate level where boys are groomed with the necessary leadership skills to lead themselves, colleagues and the outside world. Topics covered include team work, basic entrepreneurship skills, being a responsible and patriotic citizen among others. Boys at this level identify a need in their communities and provide a solution to it in our community project month.
The Maturity level focuses on building sound and positive relationships with the opposite sex, parents, friends and family. Boys are mentored and nurtured on topics such as, understanding the role of a man, the synergy between men and women, communication and networking skills and personal branding. The objective is for boys to develop relationship building skills.
Each level runs on a 12 month duration after which boys will graduate and move to the next level depending on our assessment of the boy’s development. Our monthly clinics are held on the last Sunday of every month plus an intensive man up boot camp during summer holidays at a fee.
There is also the JSA Social Projects (Communities and Slums) which we devote during public holidays to address issues of boys in danger prone or less productive communities. We held an impactful mentoring clinic for boys in Jamestown, Accra on Easter Monday and preparing now towards the Liberia Refugee Camp for a similar clinic on AU holiday.
How are you able to ensure this grooming doesn’t wear out once these boys get into the university?
Boys will serve as JSA life-mentors after completing the final level or the matured class. They will be assigned mentees to inspire and mentor.
They will be sharing their personal life stories when they were being mentored and the impact mentoring had on their personal and social life.
What are some of the marketing tools you use to publicize your services and attract people to sign up?
My greatest marketing tool has been social media (Facebook, the website, WhatsApp, Instagram, and LinkedIn), Radio and TV interviews.
Secondly, by recommendation. Parents and subscribers recommend the program to their friends after they have enrolled their boys and have seen some positive attitudinal or behavioral change in their boys.@Juniorshapersafrica we believe it’s easier to build strong boys than repair broken men Click To Tweet
Tell us some of the challenges running Junior Shapers Africa and how you are tackling them?
My first challenge is funding. Since it’s a non-profit organization, I mostly have to invest my personal money in our social projects and other programs we run. We sometimes depend on the benevolence of companies and individuals who have the vision of seeing boys empowered.
Secondly, it’s a challenge finding more dedicated, responsible and well-mannered mentors for the boys. Some men do not see the need to groom and mentor these boys at the foundational ages of their lives. They come up with excuses when they are invited to come and inspire these boys on their journey to responsible manhood. Some say, that the boys are too young to receive such nurturing.
Again, we lack the necessary infrastructure for our programs. I envision a facility with auditoriums for our mentoring sessions, a cinema, a playground, a walk-in library for boys, men and fathers to provide solutions on issues about men. A place to provide information (the man’s approach).
What are your future plans for JSA?
To set up an efficient board of trusted men as we prepare to enter other countries on the continent aside Ghana.
To have our own facility named “Men & Boys Resource Centre”.
To have a JSA institution from the basic to the tertiary only for boys empowerment.
If you were not championing male-child empowerment, what else would you have done?
I operate a niche salon for children and that’s where it all started from. I would have been there permanently to supervise my workers but I needed to step out of my comfort zone and solve a problem in society which nobody is passionately attending to.
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